Upgraded Tech Can Equal A Data Breach In Your Medical Office
If you manage a medical office, then odds are you keep the majority of your patient and employee data in the form of digital records. Doing so makes it much easier to access patient data on the spot, thereby making your practice more efficient. It also reduces the need for physical storage space, however, it also means that you have to upgrade certain computer technology, such as computer systems and hard drives, every once in a while to stay up to date with advancing technology. When upgrading computer equipment, it’s incredibly important that you have a secure process of disposing of older equipment to help prevent potential data breaches.
The Risk of Improper Disposal of Computer Technology
There are all kinds of technology that you’re likely going to have to upgrade at some point, including desktops, laptops, electronic data storage devices and backups, networking equipment, networked printers and scanners, and more. Computer systems pose the biggest threat when it comes to potential data breaches.
You might be tempted to donate some of this equipment or to just throw it out. The risk of a data breach lies in the fact that even if you carefully wipe all of the data that was stored in your computer or hard drive, it can still be accessed by someone with just a little bit of knowledge on how to run certain types of software that can restore the computer’s erased data. If someone else gets access to your HIPAA-protected information, you could be in serious trouble. Not only will your patient’s confidential medical histories be exposed, but their financial information could be stolen as well.
It’s not just computers or hard drives from which sensitive information can be stolen either–even a printer could have tens of thousands of patient social security numbers stored in its memory.
Safely Disposing of Outdated Technology
Obviously, you’ll want to do everything that you can to protect your patient and employee information. To do this, you need to implement a process to ensure that old technology is properly disposed of and that the risk of a data breach is non-existent.
When it comes to certain items, such as keyboards or monitors, there’s no risk of a data breach. This means that you can safely donate these items (allowing you to take a possible tax deduction for them) instead of throwing them away.
When it comes to devices that store potentially sensitive information, such as computers, external hard drives, printers, and more, you’ll want to take several precautions in order to properly dispose of them. The following are a few steps you’ll need to take to do so:
- Put a plan in place for the disposal of your equipment. Do not just put it in storage where it could potentially be stolen.
- Create a written chain of custody that names a specific employee or group of employees that are responsible for the safe disposal of old technology. Those in charge should be educated about the risk of improper disposal and the steps they need to take in order to properly dispose of the technology.
- Sign out all users from old equipment being disposed of and make sure that everything is disconnected from your network.
- Wipe the data from any equipment that stores data.
- Keep records for all equipment that you dispose of or donate.
- Contact a reputable technology destruction service that will provide you with a certificate of destruction.
If your medical practice has computer systems or other such equipment that needs to be disposed of, contact us at AccuShred for a no obligation estimate today.